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Free State of Jones is a 2016 film that takes on new relevance after the events of the U.S. presidential elections of November 2020.
Now that the media and social networking giants are trying to censor all information about the alleged election fraud -with the latest example from YouTube announcing that it will not allow videos to be uploaded claiming that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the election- this film, starring Matthew McConaughey, may be revealing to many people who are unaware of some of the Democratic Party’s historic election maneuvers.
Free State of Jones, directed by Gary Ross, is a historical drama based on real events and set in two different historical periods, the first from 1862 to 1876, and the second from 1948 to 1949.
In the early years it tells the true story of Newton Knight, a Mississippi farmer who served as a war nurse and deserted from the army in 1862, and in the second part it relates the judicial struggle against racial segregation of his great-great-grandson, Davis Knight, in the late 1940s.
The film is based on the books The Free State of Jones by Victoria E. Bynum, and The State of Jones, written by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer, about events during the American Civil War in Jones County, Mississippi.
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Newton Knight, played by Matthew McConaughey, is a Confederate Army nurse. After seeing his young nephew Daniel shot dead at the Battle of Corinth, and learning about the unjust and racist “Twenty Slave Law,” he decides to desert and return to his farm with his wife Serena.
His contempt for the Confederacy grows as he watches all the crops, livestock and property of his poor neighbors being seized without limit or mercy. When he decides to help them resist the theft, being a deserter, he is forced to flee from his home.
With the help of a black slave named Rachel, he takes refuge in the swamps with a group of slaves who have also escaped from their masters. This group is led by Moses Washington, who helps Newton heal from his wounds.
As the war intensifies, more deserters and escaped slaves arrive in the safe marshland, where Newton ends up as the new leader. Increasingly organized and trained, they set about raiding Confederate convoys and end up controlling a large area of the southeastern Mississippi, founding the “Free State of Jones” under the Unionist flag.
Once the war is over, they continue to grow and form a small society without taxes or racial discrimination, where everyone is free and equal, regardless of skin color. Newton earns everyone’s respect for his unwavering defense of these principles and, in particular, wins the friendship of Moses and the love of Rachel.
Newton began his journey by becoming disenchanted with the Confederacy, but the Union does not convince him either, as he realizes that many of the injustices of the past still exist and he has only changed the flag.
During the war, Jones’ free men used two tools to establish and maintain their small independent state; on the one hand, weapons, with which they defended their lives and property; and on the other, education, so that they could be educated, productive, and knowledgeable individuals.
Now with the war over and the Union’s victory, Newton and his men believe they have a new tool to defend their utopia: the vote. Specifically, the vote for the Republican Party, which is the party that defends its interests and those of its men, especially those of the former black slaves.
However, they did not count on the cunning and evil ways of the Democratic Party, bent on maintaining the pre-war status quo. The film shows without contemplation the links of this party with the Ku Klux Klan, which ends up by murdering his friend Moses, who was working on the census and registration of the freed slaves so that they could vote.
The Free State of Jones and electoral fraud
In a devastating scene, on election day 1875, several dozen former slaves led by Newton head to the city to vote for the Republican Party. Once they arrive at the polling station, they find that it is controlled by the Democrats, who try to intimidate them by telling them in a smug tone that there are only Democratic Party ballots.
Fortunately, Newton’s men are armed and can afford to demand that they be given Republican ballots. But despite the fact that dozens of them are voting, the final official count is 419 votes for the Democrats and only 2 for the Republicans. As Stalin said, “Those who cast the votes decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything.”
If the Free State of Jones wants to make us understand something, it is that history repeats itself, and to that end it shows us what happens 75 years later. His great-great-grandson Travis Knight, apparently white, was married to a girl who was also white. Newton had lived simultaneously with his first white wife and his new wife Rachel, a former black slave, whom he could not legally marry because interracial marriage was forbidden.
This unjust prohibition was still in force in 1948, and when they discovered that Travis came from the lineage of this second union, being one-eighth black, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison. The film ends in 1949 with the Mississippi Supreme Court overturning the conviction, but not daring to declare the law unconstitutional because of media and political pressure.
The parallels between this film and today are subtle but obvious, so much so that it is inevitable to watch it and not ask questions. If you search YouTube for “Free State of Jones Voting Scene,” you’ll see the scene narrated above, if it hasn’t already been censored in the purest Orwellian style, of course.
Ignacio Manuel García Medina, Business Management teacher. Artist and lecturer specialized in Popular Culture for various platforms. Presenter of the program "Pop Libertario" for the Juan de Mariana Institute. Lives in the Canary Islands, Spain // Ignacio M. García Medina es profesor de Gestión de Empresas. Es miembro del Instituto Juan de Mariana y conferenciante especializado en Cultura Popular e ideas de la Libertad.
Social Networks: @ignaciomgm